Governments' Failures    rev.01.23.2007 Back to Lessons

Your government and mine is lying to us and cheating us, and we're letting them get away with it.

"We have me the enemy and they is us"..... [--Pogo]

Note also that any environmentalist who encourages the use of ethanol mix in gasoline is a) lying to you, and b) cheating you and c) stealing from you. Same as the government.

From Neil J. George, Jr., KCI Communications, Inc. [editorial@kci-com.com]:

Next is another issue that I've been following and writing about for the past year or so: ethanol. The Senate is finally getting ready to vote and pass the new increased mandates for ethanol content in petrol around the US. And unlike other deals, this one has support on both sides of the aisle, from Daschle to Talent.

It looks like only Feinstein of California is opposing the deal--she's likely getting peeved at what it's costing to fuel up her SUV in San Francisco. She calls it a wealth transfer from her state and others to the aggie states that grow corn and other foodstuffs that are used to make ethanol.

We all know it takes more energy and fossil fuels to make ethanol than what energy the stuff itself is good for. Just the manufacture of the stuff causes even more pollution to the air andwater than plain old petrol refining does. And that ethanol-petrol actually causes more air pollutants than plain old petrol. All of that doesn't matter.

It also costs nearly twice the amount to produce ethanol blends as it does for regular petrol. But if you want to help out your friends in the agriculture business and the ethanol production business, ethanol is what you want more of. The savvy know that ethanol isn't a cleaner fuel--for those who get their news and information from soundbites and headlines, those same Congressmen will scream that they're helping the environment.

But once again my timing hasn't been great because I've been waiting on Congress to get to work on this deal. Here are the companies that want this deal to happen, and if it does, they should get a fat benefit: Archer-Daniels-Midland (US: ADM), Abengoa (US: ABGOF) and Bunge (US: BG) will get the benefit of higher food prices. As we get closer to a done deal, I'll keep rolling out a few more of the various industries that should get a boost from this legislation.

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From the New York Times, 05.22.2003:

""The results were grim," said Chase Untermeyer, a member. "Few students did well. Many students got almost no answers right."
Fearing that thousands of students would fail the new test and be held back a grade, and that hundreds of schools could face penalties under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the board voted to reduce the number of questions that students must answer correctly to pass it, to 20 out of 36, from 24, for third-grade reading."

And Michigan, too....
"Michigan's standards had been among the nation's highest, which caused problems last year when 1,513 schools there were labeled under the law as needing improvement, more than in any other state. So Michigan officials lowered the percentage of students who must pass statewide tests to certify a school as making adequate progress to 42 percent, from 75 percent of high school students on English tests, for example. That reduced the number of schools so labeled to 216."

Falk's 19th Law: If you keep lowering the passing grade, everyone will fail.
+af, 05.22.2003


Drivers in California run red lights.

Car rental companies operating in California actually warn customers who might not be familiar with California driving "techniques" to count to three before starting across an intersection, even after the light has turned from red to green!

Who asks what the cause is? Nobody I've ever talked to or read about in the local paper.

Cause or effect?

Fed up with watching cars going through an intersection against the red light, I phoned the local police and asked them to monitor the intersection. They called me a few days later and told me that they had written over 20 tickets in a half hour.

Cause or effect?

I make the case that the drivers are not flouting the law. They are simply reacting to the local situation, which can be summed up in this way:

If drivers think that the traffic signals are not set in such a way as to help people get where they're going, they're going to fight back in whatever way they think they can get away with. There are not enough police in the state to cover all of the intersections where lights are poorly timed to assist the smooth flow of traffic.

Cause: traffic signals that don't help traffic flow, but impede it.

Effect: drivers ignore the law (and risk their safety and yours) by disobeying the law.

Cure?

I'll guarantee one thing: as long as local government officials insist that they are right, and the problems lie with the drivers, the number of cars, and so on and so on..... there will be no progress. They must look to new solutions, including the idea that some of the things they've done in the past haven't worked, and need to be stopped, changed or replaced.

And that's not an excuse for running red lights when there's traffic around. But when there isn't.....


City Traffic Departments can't make the traffic signals work right.

There I am, sitting at a light. Waiting to go straight through the intersection.
The left turn arrow for the lane next to mine turns green, then yellow, then red.

My light stays red. The left-turn lane for the cars heading in the opposite direction on the street I'm on are gone. They've turned. My light stays red.

The lights cycle for traffic on the cross-street to go. They cycle again and cross traffic stops.

The left turn lanes go green again, then yellow, red. The oncoming traffic gets a green light, but the line of cars I'm sitting in, now up to at least several dozen, sees no green light.

The lights cycle again.

I make a right turn and wait at the light at the next corner for about a minute before I can make a U-turn. By the time I get back to the same intersection, the line of cars I was in has gone. The signal skipped two cycles of green for the part of the road I was on, before changing.


Could someone in the City of Cupertino's Organization That Programs The Traffic Signals please explain to me why you wanted that to happen?!
Isolated event? Not really. A month or two later, at another busy intersection, about the busiest one in the whole city of Cupertino: the left turn light stays red for three cycles of the lights at the intersection.

The left turn lanes are now backed up into the regular traffic lanes.

The driver of the pickup truck in front of me looks at the green light for straight-through traffic; he looks at the red light for left turn; he sees no cars for a block and a half in the oncoming traffic's lanes; he guns his engine and goes through the intersection against the red left-turn light. Safely.


Could someone in the City of Cupertino's Organization That Programs The Traffic Signals please explain to me why you wanted that to happen?!
On my very short commute from home to work, I wait at a light for it to cycle. No cars are crossing the intersection from left to right or right to left. Half a minute goes by. The light finally changes, and I am now allowed to go through the intersection.

Yet I don't go.

Why not?

Because the light at the next intersection has been red for a long time, and cars have backed up all the way to the crosswalk at the intersection where I'm waiting. I can't enter the intersection legally (or safely), because I can't get through the intersection safely withou blocking one of the lanes on the major cross-street.

The light on the next intersection changes. I cross the intersection, and press in front of the line of a dozen or so cars in the cross-street's right turn lane, which are also waiting to get around the corner.

The light at the next intersection stops me, too. It has not been green long enough to clear the cars still waiting.

The light changes for traffic coming the other way. But wait! Apparently the oncoming traffic's left turn lane light is green, because I still don't get a green light! And there are no cars coming or waiting to make that turn.


Could someone in the City of Cupertino's Organization That Programs The Traffic Signals please explain to me why you wanted that to happen?!
I doubt it. I dare them to prove to me that this is the best way to move traffic, provide for the common safety, and maintain low air pollution levels in our cities. Yet, if you ask them, they say they're doing a good job.

Surprised?


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First Rev: 06.04.2003 © Copyright 2003-2007 by plusaf. All rights reserved.